Today’s Sun reveals that legislation to ensure Britain meets the UN goal of 0.7 per cent spending on international aid will be delayed despite a manifesto commitment from the Tories ahead of the 2010 election that they would;
“legislate in the first session of a new Parliament to lock in this level of spending for every year from 2013.”
And a further commitment in the Coalition agreement to;
“We will honour our commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid from 2013, and to enshrine this commitment in law.”
As Richard Darlington, former Special Advisor at DFID and now head of IPPR says over on the New Statesman blog;
This has been one of the longest ever Parliamentary sessions in history, running from May 2010 to May 2012. So what’s gone wrong?
There are still ten weeks left in this Parliamentary session and another three when MPs will be on holiday. DFID’s Bill is short with just a handful of clauses. It has already had pre-legislative scrutiny from the International Development Select Committee and there is cross-party consensus. There is no prospect of it being overturned in the Lords. It could probably be passed on a one line whip on a Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.
Are the government worried about the destabilising impact of another backbench rebellion so soon after their European troubles? Or are they worried that the next Parliamentary session does not have enough business? In a story in the Times today, Political Editor Roland Watson reports that the next Queen’s Speech will contain just 12 Bills because the Conservatives and Lib Dems are struggling to find enough common ground to agree a legislative programme.